English Literature vs Literature in English
Since the two terms, English literature and literature in English, sound somewhat similar and confusing, let us find out whether there is any difference between English literature and literature in English. The term literature refers to the collective body of literary productions scattered all over the world, apparently written in not just one language, but many. As the study of literary work has interested many people from different parts of the world for ages, literature has become a subject taught at schools, colleges, and universities offering diverse programmes for students. Since it is a broad term, it has many sub-branches which refer to literature either country-wise, e.g. American literature, French literature, English literature, etc., or chronological period-wise, e.g. Old literature, Classical literature, Victorian literature, modern literature, etc., on larger geographical area-wise, western literature, eastern literature, south Asian literature, etc. Literature is written in any language native to a country, and regional literature encompasses literary work written in many languages of the region. This article explores the differences between English literature and literature in English.
What is English Literature?
English literature is the term which refers to literary work written not just in England, but also in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, British colonies, including the United States of America. However, with literary productions blooming in America mainly since late 18th century and early 19th centuries, a sub-branch of English literature called American literature emerged. Based on the chronological period, English literature is divided into several eras such as Old English literature (c.658-1100), Middle English literature (1100–1500), English Renaissance (1500–1660), Neo-Classical Period (1660–1798), 19th-century literature, English literature since 1901 which includes modern, post-modern, and 20th-century literature. Renowned English literature writers of all time include William Shakespeare (England), Jane Austen (England), Emily Bronte (England), William Blake (England), Mark Twain (United States), James Joyce (Ireland), Arthur Conon Doyle (Scotland), Virginia Woolf (England), T.S. Eliot (United States), Salman Rushdie (India), Dylan Thomas (Wales)to name a few. Literary works such as drama, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, essays, etc., make up English literature. Learning English literature is important as it deals with universal themes and values that help readers grow in their everyday lives.
What is Literature in English?
To some, Literature in English refers to the same as English Literature. Though it may not be entirely a false perception, it is subtly different from English literature. Literature in English refers to any literary work written in any other language other than English but translated to English. For instance, French literature is entirely written in French language. However, when the renowned French novel Les Miserables is translated into English, that becomes literature in English. Thus, literary productions written in different parts of the world in different languages and scripts when translated to English are called literature in English.
What is the difference between English Literature and Literature in English?
• English literature refers to the literary works written in Great Britain and British colonies whereas literature in English refers to literary works from all over the world written in any other language.
• English literature is written in English language while literature in English is written in other languages but is translated into English language.
• English literature mainly reflects the English culture, while literature in English mirrors diverse cultures.
Judging by the above distinct and subtle differences, it is comprehensive that English literature and literature in English are two different notions although in some cases they are falsely used interchangeably.